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Stefan Kazakis on 25 July 2020

Building and growing an A-grade Team

In previous weeks, we’ve been examining the six pillars of business – and today we get to the final pillar – your team.

Building a team you can trust, with each member performing at a high level delivering extreme value to your business is critical to your long-term business success.

Your team is so important because at some point, your business should become much bigger than just you. You need to empower your team to take your business to a new level.

You need people on your team who fill their role better than you’re able to. You need a team who are as invested in the success of your business as you are.

Leading a team who trust and support you will be a massive boost to your business. They will bring their own skills and intellect to your business, adding value and skills that will help you achieve your ultimate business goals.

This is the ultimate result for your business. Each person is fulfilling their role, becoming leaders in their own right, allowing you to focus on more important issues – namely, growing and leading your business forward.

Think of it like a soccer team. Once you have a great goalkeeper, you no longer need to worry about who is doing the job. You know you have a great person in the position, so you’re only job is to give them the tools and strategies to do their job properly.

When you are a small business, you may need people who are good at multiple roles, because small businesses need to be adaptable and make the most of every resource. As you grow and each role becomes more specialised, you can hire the best person for each position – and because you’re building a reputation for having an A-grade team, they will find you, because they want to work for you.

You don’t want a team full of people who hide in the lunchroom because they don’t know what they are doing, or who count the minutes to the weekend from 9 am on Monday. You want a team who will put in the extra effort and go above and beyond to get a good result.

So, how do you find these people?

How do you recruit A-grade employees?

To recruit A-grade employees, you need to take on the approach of recruiting 24/7/365.

Always be on the lookout for great people. You need to take a head hunting approach all day, every day, rather than the more common approach, which is, bugger, I need somebody right now – I’ll put the job on the internet and hire the first person who seems like they might be able to kind of do the job. 

Scouting 24/7/365 means every day you are preparing for the future. Every day you are on the trail of finding the right people for your business. Every day you are meeting people who at some point could be joining your team. You are future proofing your business.

If you are looking 365 days a year and the right person comes along, you will find the right job for them at the right time.

Good people are always out there, and they are alert to opportunity. If you’re constantly looking, they will show up.

As in music, sport, politics and in any other walk of life, the elite teams become the benchmark.

Those organisations that get the best people tend to get a lot of people applying for each position, and the quality of applicants is higher. 

It becomes a cycle: the more A-graders you have on your team, the more A-graders you will attract. 

To be an employer of choice is critical and fundamental to your long-term growth.

Now you have recruited your best people, how do you continue to help them grow to be better?

The answer is feedback! Give them feedback constantly, so they are aware of the standards and results you expect. This feedback must only be based on observed facts about behaviour. This prevents people taking the message personally and becoming resistant. It must never be about them as people.

Remember this: Go hard on the issue, soft on the person

Once the feedback has been given you should listen to what the person has to say. They might have insight that you are completely unaware of. You should allow them to take ownership: Ask them what they think an appropriate action to take would be. Ensure they are heard, and collaborate to reach agreement and buy-in.

Here are some guidelines to providing feedback to people in your team:

  • Always have a positive intention
  • Give feedback on behaviours not people
  • Give feedback at the time
  • Use specific examples
  • Only use first person examples, not third person examples and second-hand opinions
  • Be consistent and accurate and never contradictory

Congruency ensures that as you give feedback you should take the learnings from those that provide it to you.

Remember, always be constructive!

The purpose of feedback is to motivate your team and to help them to continuously improve their performance. Remember, too, that feedback may be used to reinforce a behaviour that is positive, in addition to changing a behaviour that is considered to be negative.

As the leader you have a responsibility to create an environment within your team where giving and receiving constructive feedback is considered the norm.

Healthy effective teams regularly exchange feedback between all team members. 

So, are you providing valuable feedback? Does your team take that feedback constructively? Do they respond to feedback with improved performance?

If you need tips and advice on how to recruit, build and keep an A-grade team – then reach out. Especially in a difficult time like we are in now, having a loyal and trustworthy team who are as invested in your business’ success as you are will make sure you come out the other side stronger and more aligned than ever.

Power to you!  

Stefan Kazakis 

CEO, Business Benchmark Group


Looking for a business coach? Find out more about the Board of Directors 12 Business Coaching Program.

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